“It is your omen, only you know the meaning. To me, it is but another star in the night.”
– Gerald R. Stanek
As you work more with Animal Spirits, Totems, Guides, and Familiars, it becomes evident that this sphere holds a great deal of symbolic value. Our ancestors trusted in those symbols deeply.
Animal Totems and Familiars
The interpretation of animal signs often tied directly into each creature’s totemic powers and characteristics based on culture and region. For example:
Dog Howling: Among the negative omens we find a howling dog (or coyote) presaging bad luck, often in a relationship or partnership. Among Native Americans and other similar societies, the dog is a friend and ally to humans, so when it howls a warning, the news can’t be good.
Fox: Seeing a fox just before consummating an agreement was unfavorable, the fox is an emblem of the trickster. The trickster spirit is one whose lessons come through subterfuge, pranks, and deception.
Horse, Eagle or Hawk: Seeing a horse, an eagle, or a hawk meant good news is on its way. The horse serves humankind and provides movement. The eagle and hawk offer the medicine of perspective and the ability to rise above one’s circumstances.
So, if you see an animal in an unusual spot, or at a particular time, pay heed. It may be a sign for you to attend (especially if it is your Spirit Animal). Note too that if you see the same animal image repeatedly on cards, logos, mailing flyers, and the like, it may be a modern way for a nature spirit to get your attention.
Animal Omen Interpretation
This is a brief list to get you started. As your studies continue, keep track of new Animal signs that come to you, and what they meant. Not everything a Witch or Pagan sees has a “pat” meaning. If the appearance of an animal has a personal connotation, that’s usually what Spirit uses.
This list has Native American Animal Wisdom as a foundation (see Shamanic Witch). How do you know if the sign is positive or negative? It depends on context. A frog jumping merrily into a pond has a far different connotation than one squished on the road.
Positive: self-assurance and confidence concerning a goal.
Negative: not trusting yourself or your intuition enough; continually second-guessing yourself.
Positive: Teamwork is the key to making this situation work.
Negative: Apathy or inactivity are robbing you of an excellent opportunity. Remember to live presently.
Positive: making a good choice, especially for a career move.
Negative: not seeing the need for change; refusing to grow up.
Positive: Consideration and serenity.
Negative: letting fears control actions; release others from unrealistic expectations. Stay real.
Positive: Watch for important messages from others or the earth.
Negative: You’re missing something important. Wake up and live attentively.
Positive: Wise communications are your best ally.
Negative: Trying to prove a point can lead to burnout.
Positive: restored health or a good break. Stay alert.
Negative: Take care with your health or beware of an offer that seems too good to be true.
Positive: feeling rejuvenated in body, mind, and spirit; refreshed clarity; be thankful.
Negative: a time of tears, but it will soon pass.
Positive: good news; magical awareness.
Negative: not seeing the truth, not living truthfully, or not taking responsibility.
Positive: Organization and detail-mindedness will lead to success.
Negative: beware of using your resources unwisely.
Positive: an opportunity for playfulness and leisure.
Negative: lacking focus and scattering your attention on too many projects or hobbies.
Positive: abundance and fertility.
Negative: Don’t spend so much time thinking about tomorrow that you miss today.
Positive: manifesting magic.
Negative: Karmic reprisal is coming to your doorstep.
Positive: the ability to positively assert yourself.
Negative: Egotistic attitudes are separating you from others and the Sacred.
Positive: recognizing the need to make a positive change in your life, and acting on it; initiate!
Negative: Stubbornness leads to stagnation.
Positive: Preparation, planning, and integration afford success.
Negative: Accumulations avail nothing; look for quality, not quantity.
Positive: Creativity and solid foundations are yours.
Negative: a blockage; the need to retreat and regroup.
Positive: effectively making your way through a difficult situation.
Negative: the need to develop a backbone and stand your ground.
The Personal Factor
In considering these meanings, look to any questions that have laid heavy on your heart recently, or pressing situations, and then adapt the interpretive value accordingly. Other factors to consider in your interpretation include:
- How did the creature move? Did it walk, run, limp? Walking indicates a calmness, running a more immediate need, and limping some type of impairment to progress.
- What was the creature’s demeanor like? Friendly, pensive, fearful, angry? If angry, to whom or what was this ire directed? If toward you, you’ve somehow insulted your totem and need to make amends.
- What direction did the creature come from or go to? Generally, movements on your right-hand side (or left to right) are considered favorable. Alternatively, the direction of movement can indicate the direction in which a source of trouble or aid lies.
- What stance did the animal take? Standing, sitting, lying down? Standing is a position of readiness, while sitting can symbolize study or relaxation, and lying is submissive or restful.
- To put this into an example, say you’ve had an argument in a relationship. Constantly seeing the image of a wolf with its hair up might indicate that:
- (a). You are too angry to act right now without hurting someone or making things worse;
- (b). You need to act with all due resoluteness, bearing your teeth be to get the point across; or
- (c). The other person is too defensive right now for you to accomplish anything positive. Wait a while and let this situation calm down.
Which interpretation is correct? Well, what else was the wolf doing? Was it running? Standing over a prey? These stances relate to actions (b) and (a) respectively. So, gather as much information as possible and add your own insights for the best possible results.
Based on “Shaman in a 9-5 World,” by Patricia Telesco. All Rights Reserved.